A Shropshire farm in transition to organic

A Shropshire farm in transition to organic

Bodbury Farm, Shropshire is completing organic conversion in November 2024. Farming rare pig breeds, managers Sarah and Byron Odell started the transition as soon as they took over the property in 2022.

Building on Byron’s previous experience with dairy farming in Australia – and following 15 years of saving – they bought the 30-acre farm and got to work converting to organic, adopting nature-friendly farming methods and forming local connections to source organic oats for the pigs. The farm sells bacon, sausages and seasonal vegetables at local markets, with plans to start selling online.

Sarah holding piglet

Sarah Odell said: “There was never any question that we’d be organic – before we took over the farm I was a biology teacher. I’ve always been interested in biodiversity and healthy food. “Our customers love that they can rely on us to stick to these principles – our pigs are kept well, and their food is grown in the UK, without harmful chemicals.”

Organic markets

Soil Association Certification’s Organic Market Report 2024 has shown that, although the organic market grew 2% in 2023 to reach £3.2 billion, organic farmland has stayed flat at 3% of all farmland. This concern is shared with organic farmers from all around the UK – for organic production to be able to scale up, there need to be greater support for farmers looking to transition and the right markets being in place to give farmers the confidence to embark on conversion.

This would also benefit UK nature, combatting the staggering decline in biodiversity – organic farms, on average, have 50% more wildlife. This has been addressed in Europe, with the EU aiming for 25% of farmland to be organic by 2030 – but the UK is lagging behind, which limits how much the country can benefit from a growing organic market.

Sarah said: “As organic farmers we need the confidence that we will have access to a buoyant market for our produce and a genuine commitment from government to invest in nature-friendly farming.

“Unless we do this we won’t see the amazing benefits for nature and the environment.” As they prepare to complete their organic transition, the Odells are looking forward to the new markets that will open to them once they’ve secured organic certification.

Sarah continued: “Luckily, we’re near some excellent organic markets which is a great place for us to expand into when we get full certification.

“In addition to the pigs, we have exciting plans to grow cut flowers and open a farm shop.

“Aside from the business, we’re excited to work with nature – we’ve planted over two acres of woodland and we’re installing hedgerows and ponds to bolster local biodiversity.

“This is what we set out to do in the first place – seeing the results makes all the work worthwhile.”

Interested in becoming organic? Get information and support with applying by contacting Soil Association Certification.